Subscription Boxes in Western Europe: The Way to Success

December 2021

The growing popularity of subscription boxes has led to a rise in M&A activity and funding for subscription box start-ups. Available across industries, they target specific consumer needs through different subscription models: pure convenience, experiential convenience and indulgence. Generally, successful boxes are those which attract and retain their existing clients thanks to the integration of local preferences as well as the right balance of savings and differentiating benefits.

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Key Findings

Growing popularity of subscription boxes leads to a rise in M&A activity and funding for subscription box start-ups

Subscription boxes have exploded in the marketplace, with their growth further accelerating in 2020 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Consumers’ need for entertainment at home allowed boxes like meal kits, toys for children, or self-care assortments to expand. Witnessing the model’s popularity, industry giants like Amazon (Amazon Subscribe & Save) and Edgewell (Wilkinson Men/Women Razor & Shaving Subscriptions) have adopted this business model, while successful start-ups like Lookiero have continuously raised funds. 

Winning boxes provide savings and differentiating benefits

Winning boxes across industries are those that can attract and retain their existing clients by providing the right balance of savings (time and costs) and differentiating benefits (notably through personalisation and diversified product offering).

Subscription boxes suit a wide range of industries and target specific consumer needs through different subscription models

Subscription boxes can now be found across industries, under different models such as convenience, experiences and indulgence. While convenience boxes appeal to those seeking discounts or product replenishment across industries such as personal care, and indulgence ones are more prominent for non-essential/self-pampering categories such as beauty and flowers, experiential boxes aim to provide the perfect balance between both models.

Subscription boxes’ popularity reliant on local preferences and customs

Countries across Western Europe have different approaches to the subscription model variants. French and UK citizens are keener to discover and try out indulgent ones, whereas price-sensitive Germans prefer convenience boxes that provide discounts. Spain and Italy remain laggards in the acceptance of subscription boxes, notably due to the lower penetration of e-commerce. With popularity comes the growth of players within the segment, explaining why, in Italy, subscription models are scarcer and consumers still need to be convinced.

 

Introduction

Scope
Key Findings
Dynamic growth of subscription model attracts all, from big to small

Countries Presenting the Best Opportunities for Subscription Boxes

E-commerce integration and a pinch of local flavour hit the spot
The UK remains the most attractive market for subscription boxes
Pivoting subscription model proposition to local demand is key
Germany as the epitome of local adjustment

Industries Leading the Way for Subscription Boxes in the Industry

Food subscription boxes attract the masses, but pet care retains the most
Unlike drinks, food boxes integrate into the lifestyle of consumers
Convenience and indulgence? please within health and beauty
The element of surprise ticks the boxes in apparel but less so in luxury
Post-COVID demand for toys and games subscriptions is slowing down
Home products subscription models inspire large leading brands
Omnichannel remains a key asset for pet food players in Europe

Leading Subscription Business Models and The Key to Their Success

Convenience remains the first motivation to use subscription models
The choice of subscription model affects the longevity of consumer loyalty
Spring focuses on bringing “green” convenience home
H arry’s offering of savings and convenience hit the sweet spot
Oddbox offers convenience with a twist on sustainability
Healthy, experiential and authentic meal kits from Hello Fresh
Dog Chef taps into humanisation trend with indulgent offering for dogs
ToucanBox provides parents and children an escape from the digital world
Lookiero personalised fashion offering is gaining traction
The pioneer of beauty boxes diversifies its product and customer base
Pure indulgence from My Geek Box
Blue Coffee Box ticks all the subscription boxes

Outlook and Key Findings

The way to success?
Key Findings

Appendix

Market attractiveness dashboard: Methodology
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